How do you think the new GigE standards will influence the machine vision industry?
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Two key machine vision applications are metrology—the science of measurement—and inspection. Metrology is derived from the Greek metron (measure) and logos (study). Inspection comes from the Classical Latin inspectionem (a looking into). There are so many things to measure and inspect these days, so many things we rely on whether they're necessary or not.
A number of interesting technologies, including 3D, are making life a bit easier and more reliable for machine vision professionals. Let's take a look at just three applications: semiconductor measurement and inspection, cylindrical container inspection and automobile inspection.
CyberOptics Semiconductor (Beaverton, Ore.) has developed a method of seeing inside semiconductor equipment to help avoid wafer mishandling during the manufacturing process. Cognex (Natick, Mass.), has unveiled technology that allows high-speed, non-stop inspection of randomly oriented cylindrical containers. Allied Vision Technologies (Stadtroda, Germany) helps robots adapt the position of automobile body parts to each other before fitting.
CyberOptics in January released the latest addition to its lineup of wireless, wafer-like measurement products, WaferSense™, ATS (Automatic Teaching System), which uses machine vision to see inside semiconductor equipment. The ATS is designed like a wafer so it can be handled like one—it's round and with a notch for the housing. Once inside the semiconductor equipment, it uses machine vision to "see" targets that mark wafer-transfer locations, such as load locks and process chambers, and transmits their digital coordinates to the user. It relays live video and real-time coordinate data via graphical user interface, allowing engineers to look for lost or broken wafers without opening the tool.
"It leverages a machine vision technician to help fabricating engineers teach robot position within the tool to plus or minus 0.1 mm in the X and Y dimensions, and plus or minus 0.5 mm in Z," explains Dennis Bonciolini, VP of Engineering at CyberOptics. "It's fairly sophisticated image capture. You have your own illumination and get target acquisition from a down-looking camera. If you have the camera above the target on the robot blade, you can teach the tool with this device."